Author – Rasleen Syal
Publisher – Srishti Publishers
Pages – 246
Price – Rs.195
Sneak from the cover
The radiant new daughter in law of the influential Mehta family dies mysteriously on the very next night of her wedding. The murder is an inside job, the police are certain. It could be anyone – the adulterous husband, conniving in-laws, jealous friend or the love struck ex-fiancé. Will one of these nine unlikely sleuths finally unravel the mystery behind Gulab’s death and avenge it? Or will the truth die as viciously as Gulab?
A beautiful cloth, perhaps a part of the wedding finery decorates the cover and almost took my attention away from the title. Admiring the color, my eyes suddenly widen at the sight of blood oozing out from beneath the cloth. What else lies inside? I wonder then, for never would someone associate “happiness” with murder! And here I read someone talking about being “Happily Murdered”!
It was a “dream come true” moment for Gulab. Few hours back, she had married the man of her dreams. The Mehta house was full of celebrations. She regarded the Dancing Pavillion one last time, her feet unable to bear the excitement. And before she could live more of this dream, it was time to say goodbye to this life.
The story begins on a somewhat shocking note, with a young and happy Gulab dying mysteriously on her wedding night. The wedding hustle and bustle in the house suddenly transforms into media and police activity. On the radar is every person in the house – Gulab’s husband Sid, her in laws KD and Tina, her business partner Vikram and his wife Monica, Monica’s sister Sara who was once engaged to Gulab’s husband, Gulab’s ex Ned, and even Gulab’s best friend Yuvi.
While the police struggle to nail the killer, there is a different sort of struggle in the house. Like the empty bottle in the truth and dare game, everyone is trying to save himself/herself whenever all eyes fall on him/her.
Having fed on a generous diet of Agatha Christie books, the debut author surprisingly knows how to keep the readers hooked. With every family member becoming a self proclaimed detective to nail the true killer, the story oscillates between flashback and present. The beauty lies also in the way Gulab’s life, hopes and feelings are expressed in her own voice, even though she is dead in the first page. I wondered then, was I reviewing a debut work, for the book has all the elements of a perfect murder mystery!
Frequent references to various quotes bring the reader closer to Gulab’s state of mind, and by the time the mystery is unraveled, the reader feels a strong sympathy and pain for her.
I would strongly recommend the book if you are looking for a good mystery read. But a word of caution though – chances are, you won’t be able to keep the book down unless you have read till the last page in one go!
With a debut penned with such finesse, I look forward to the Rasleen’s next book.
What I loved about the book
Expression of Gulab’s feelings in her own voice, since she is a deceased character; strikes an instant chord with the reader.
Despite being a debut, I was impressed to see no traces of drags and unwanted descriptions that is found in many books. Also, the pace of the story is just right with each part given its due attention.
What could have been better
The sudden improvement in relationship between Sara and Gulab was a bit hard to chew. Few typos sneak into the otherwise perfect language.
About the Author
A mystery addict, Rasleen considers Agatha Christie her Guru. She designs homes for a living and loves to seek mystery in everyday domestic situations. This is her debut.
The book was received as part of Reviewers Programme on The Tales Pensieve.